Lawmakers Slam UK Government for ‘Dragging Its Feet’ on China Forced Labour

Updated: 2021-06-10 16:10:15

A committee of British lawmakers has criticised the government for failing to take timely action in response to the Chinese regime’s use of forced labour in Xinjiang.

The Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee in the House of Commons said on Thursday that the UK government had refused to “commit to clear timeframes and substantive actions” in response to committee recommendations.

In a report entitled “Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang and UK value chains,” which was published in March, the committee recommended strengthening the Modern Slavery Act 2015, enhancing the transparency and accessibility of modern slavery statements, and developing options for civil penalties in the event of non-compliance.

The committee expressed disappointment that the government had rejected many of the report’s recommendations.

Nusrat Ghani, a Conservative MP who has been actively campaigning for Uyghur human rights, said the government’s response was “deeply disheartening.”

“Given the horrifying evidence of abuses, it beggars belief the government is dragging its feet in bringing forward the tough action needed to help to tackle the exploitation of forced labour in Xinjiang,” she said.

“The government’s response fails to provide reassurance to customers that they aren’t contributing to supply chains tainted by modern slavery and lets down British businesses who are trying to do the right thing and ensure their supply chains don’t profit from forced labour.”

She urged the government to “think again, revisit the report’s recommendations, and give these serious matters the prominence they deserve.”

In response to the criticism, a government spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement: “Evidence of the scale and the severity of the human rights violations being perpetrated in Xinjiang paints a truly harrowing picture and the British government will not stand for forced labour, wherever it takes place.

“In January, we announced a robust package of measures to ensure no UK organisations are complicit in the serious human rights violations being perpetrated against the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang and we are taking forward proposals to strengthen the law in this area.”

Britain announced sanctions on March 22 in coordination with the European Union, Canada, and the United States against Chinese officials over the alleged human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims.

In response, the Chinese regime imposed sanctions on British individuals and entities that it said “maliciously spread lies and disinformation” about Xinjiang.

The UK Parliament on April 22 unanimously passed a non-binding motion declaring that Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang are suffering crimes against humanity and genocide, and called on the UK government to use international law to bring it to an end.

Lily Zhou contributed to this report.

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